Chris Hargreaves admitted Jake Wright’s determination was key as his Torquay United side slipped to a 1-0 defeat at Oxford United.
The relegation strugglers had few bright moments going forward, but almost snatched a late equaliser when Kevin Nicholson’s free-kick struck the crossbar.
The ball looped into the air and back into play. With goalkeeper Ryan Clarke out of position after diving to save the initial set-piece, the net was unguarded.
It led to a foot race among the players following up, which Wright won to head away to safety.
The U’s skipper injured himself in the process and was taken to hospital with a nasty cut.
Hargreaves bemoaned the fact Wright had beaten Billy Bodin to the ball, preventing a certain goal.
The Gulls boss said: “It’s a learning curve for everyone.
“Jump early, go and break your nose, score the equaliser. “You either do that or (Wright) clears it off the line. He did that and got a big gash in his leg, that’s why they won 1-0, because he did that.”
Defeat left Torquay in the relegation zone, but Hargreaves, who had two spells at Oxford as a player, put it down to one poor moment and felt it was no reason for concern.
He said: “We’ve worked on our defensive line for the two weeks I’ve been in and unfortunately it was bad judgement first and second for the goal.
“It was a scrappy game and probably had 0-0 written all over it.
“The players are disappointed because they wanted to come to a team here and beat them.
“The sign is that they’re confident, so I’ve got no worries.”